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tv   Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 30, 2013 9:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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we have one, lake mead, which we all know about. lake mead, we have about 15,000 people visit that every day. that will close in the morning -- or yeah, 12:01 tonight. you add that up that's about 500,000, 600,000 a year come there. red rock, a beautiful place not far out of las vegas, tourists love it, like lake mead. we have 11 million people a year come there. this is going to happen all over america. and i will mention a couple things in nevada. i'll bet my friend knows that there are -- of the national treasures in illinois that will close. is that true? mr. durbin: i would say to the senator from nevada that we have 50,000 federal employees in illinois and we expect the majority of them to be sent home
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tomorrow. they're working in places like the rock island ars knell. these -- arsenal. these are men and women who make the armaments america needs to be safe. the same thing will happen at the great lakes naval training station. that's the relet. i was briefed this afternoon because of my responsibilities on the appropriations committee about the impact of the government shutdown on the intelligence agencies of the united states. i'm not at liberty to give a number, but it is an amazingly large percentage of those working in intelligence agencies tomorrow who will be told to go home. these men and women are watching out for our safety and security. to guard against terrorism every single day. because the government shuts down, they believe be -- they will be sent home. not all of them, the military personnel involved will continue but the nonmilitary personnel, many of them, thousands of
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them, will be sent home from work tomorrow. for what purpose? to make a political point about the power of congress to shut down the government? it really doesn't make us any safer as a nation, it certainly doesn't enhance our reputation and it's helping to build our economy. as the senator from nevada knows, we're making a recovery, it's slow, and we've been told by the business roundtable not necessarily an ally of the democratic party, that this tea party republican strategy will be disastrous in terms of economic growth. i don't know if the word was calamitous or catastrophic or whatever, but -- cataclysmic, it was one of those, and they told us to do this will be damaging to this economy. and yet the house republican leadership is hell-bent on bet getting this done, shutting down this government tonight when all they have to do is take what's what passed the senate, our budget proposal that passed the senate and call it for a vote. if they call it for a vote, it
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will pass and they know it. and speaker boehner and the tea party republicans live in fear of that possibility. i hope they come to their senses. this is about more than a political bragging point. more than tomorrow's headline. we can avoid shutting down this government. mr. president, i yield the floor. and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the morning business be closed. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. reid: so sorry. i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask morning business be closed. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection morning business is closed. mr. reid: i ask the chair lay before the house a message from the house with respect to h.j. res. 59. the presiding officer: the claire lays before the senate a message from the house. the clerk: to the resolution, h.j. res. 59 entitled joint resolution making continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2014 and for other purposes, and concur with the house amendment to senate amendment. mr. reid: i move to table the house amendment and ask for the yeas and nays on my motion. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there is a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll.
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vote:
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quoru vote:
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the presiding officer: there will be order in the chamber.
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to change their vote? if not, on the motion to table the house amendment to the senate amendment to h.j. res. 59, ayes 54, nays 46. the motion to table is approved. -- is agreed to. the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent we be in a period of morning business for debate only until 11:00 p.m., senators permitted to speak for up to ten
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minutes each. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. mr. reid: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent there be a period of morning business until 11:00 p.m. tonight. senators during that time be allowed to speak for up to ten minutes each. at 11:00, i be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, the quorum call will be suspended. mr. reid: mr. president, there is some dispute here. i thought i said that there would be 10 minutes for debate
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only, and that would be -- at 11:00, we would be recognized. i want to make sure the debate only is part of the record. the presiding officer: is there objection? seeing none, so ordered. mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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ms. mikulski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: madam president, i ask the call of the quorum be vacated. the presiding officer: without objection. misdemeanorms. mikulski: madam , as you know, we're only two hours now from a shutdown. and i'm sure for those who are mesmerized by our behavior saw a group of senators here on the floor and we looked like we were smiling and enjoying ourselves. now, madam president, let me tell you what was going on. senators were actually having a conversation. we were talking about, is there a possibility of a compromise? what you saw there is what i would hope eventually would become a committee of 100, people actually thinking, what could get us to a situation where we could begin to focus on the fiscal problems of the united states. there is a difference between
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the house continuing -- the house appropriations bill, the senate. i chair that committee. so there is -- there is a difference with us. but what i wanted people to see here is that there are good people on both sides of the aisle who would like to get something done. and the first thing we would like to get done tonight is not to have a government shutdown and to lay the groundwork for a continuing funding resolution that would be short term, that would enable us to come up with a compromise on the spending for discretionary spending where we could reduce our public debt, fund our government at a smart, frugal level and also do it in a way that promotes growth. this is what i think the mood of many in the senate is. i think it's the mood on the
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majority of both sides of the aisle. so what do we need from our friends in the house? we don't need one more politically provocative veto bait rider on the funding resolution. the senate passed a bill that essentially laid out a framework exactly for what i said -- a continuing resolution to november 15 at a fiscal level that is their level now. we want to negotiate up, i certainly do. and if they would just take up the senate bill which is neat, clean, clear and gets us moving forward, we could be able to do this. so we weren't just ha-ha-haing over there. there's not here tonight to ha-ha-ha about. but there is a mood here on both
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sides of the aisle to really stop the shutdown, stop the shutdown and stop the slamdown. let's be able to pass something tonight that gets us in a way that we can get the government open, keep our processes functioning for compromise and negotiation and really be able to get the job done. i think it would be an outstanding achievement and i believe that the mood is here. i said it earlier. i think that there is the will. i even think there's the wallet. please, if the house cooperates, we would even have a way forward. madam president, i yield the floor. ms. murkowski: madam president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: madam president, i want to follow the comments of the chairman of the appropriations committee. this has been a tough week. it's been a tough weekend. it's been a tough day. and i think as -- as members of the senate, as we approach really the -- the showdown of a potential shutdown, it's important for us to recognize really what is at stake. this is not just -- does not just mean us staying here holding the floor late on a monday evening. i've got neighbors here in washington, d.c., who work for the federal government. one works for homeland security. one works for department of defense. they asked me over the weekend, am i working on tuesday? what's happening on tuesday? are we shutting the government
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down? when we talk about those who are uncertain about what happens this next week with their jobs, i think it's important to recognize that it's not just jobs that we're talking about, it's the reality that if i'm not at work, is the child care facility that my kids go to, is that going to be open; what does that mean to me? if i'm the local sandwich shop around the corner from where the fish and wildlife service building is and most of the folks that work for fish and wildlife are not working next week, what does that mean to me? how many loaves of bread do i make over this next week? i think we need to appreciate understand and that when we're talking about a -- a government shutdown, it does not just mean those -- who receive a check from the federal government. the ripple effect from what we
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do has consequences. and so as we debate, as we ping-pong back and forth between this body and our colleagues on the house side, i think we need to recognize that there are -- are real lives, real families who are -- are laying awake tonight wondering what the rest of the week is going to mean to them. this -- this is a difficult time for us and there are stakes that are very high. i've made no -- no -- have not hidden the fact that i am not a supporter of the affordable care act. i have voted against it every time we have had the opportunity to do so. but do i believe that we should
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shut down the federal government at this point because we haven't been able to shut down the affordable care act? i think that we have a responsibility here. we've got a responsibility to govern and we're not doing that right now. folks back home are talking about a lot of things, talking about the fact that they had a tough fish season in certain parts of the state. they're talking about the fact that winter is coming on and our energy costs are still as high as they ever have been. they're worried about what's -- what's coming forward for them and their families. what they don't need is to know that their government can't operate. so as we deal with these very
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weighty decisions at this very, very late hour, we need to remember who we represent, what we're doing here. it's not just about the next election. it's about making sure that those people that we work for are not stressing and are not anxious about what tomorrow is going to bring for them. so i'm hopeful in the less than two hours that we have we will be able to figure out how we keep the government running, how we keep the wheels on the bus, and how we get back to governing. and with that, madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: thank you,madam president. i want to echo my colleague from alaska, senator murkowski, and
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also the chair of the appropriations committee, senator mikulski, for their comments because i think, as senator mikulski said, that the majority of members in this body believe that it's important for to us keep the government open, that we may disagree about the affordable care act but one thing we ought to be able to agree on is that it's in the best interests of this country to keep government open. i believe the same is true in the house, that if the speaker would bring up the senate-passed c.r. that's clean, that doesn't have any amendments on it, that extends funding for government through november 15, that accepts the top-line numbers for the amount of money we would spend during that period, accepts the house numbers, if the speaker would let that be voted on on the floor, i think it would pass the house.
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and it's unfortunate that he's been unwilling to do that.but the realit.but the reality is, h senator murkowski and mikulski said, a shutdown of the government isn't just about what we're doing here on the floor tonight or what the house is doing. it will have ramifications way beyond that. we had a meeting last week of some economists that included former treasury secretary bob bb rubin, and one of the things he said to us was unlike the last government shutdown in 1995, when there wasn't a real long-term impact from that shutdown, that we're looking at a real long-term impact from a potential shutdown. we've already heard mark zandi, economist, say that it will ha have -- if it continues longer than a few days, if it continues for weeks, as it did in 1995,
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that it could affect our growth in the fourth quarter over a percent. and at a time when the economy is struggling, we can't afford to have that kind a hit to our economy. families who are seeing their 401(k)'s just beginning to recover, pension plans that are going to see recovery can't afford to have that kind of a hit. we've already seen the stock market reacting so we know there's going to be an impact. in new hampshire, we have 4,000 federal employees who are going to get furloughed starting tomorrow if we aren't able to keep the government open. and that affects not just them and their families -- that's bad enough -- but it affects the grocery stores that they frequent, it affects the gas stations, it affects every business that they're shopping from. we know that a thousand small businesses are not going to be able to go to the s.b.a. and look for loans if the government shuts down.
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we know that people aren't going to be able to get their mortgages through the federal home loan agency because it's not going to be operating. we know in new hampshire that tourism, just as in alaska, is going to be hit because visas aren't going to get processed. we know at the department of defense, half of their civilian workers are going to be furloughed. in new hampshire, our portsmouth naval shipyard in new hampshire and maine -- and i see my colleague from maine here -- the shipyard workers are going to get furloughed. so this is going to have a huge impact on families, on businesses, on the economy. and we can't afford this kind of political gamesmanship. we've got to work together. we've got to solve these problems not just for the future of this country here in america but also for our standing in the world, where the rest of the world is looking at us saying,
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why can't -- what's the matter with the congress that they can't solve an issue that we ought to be able to come together to address. so i certainly hope in the next couple of hours that we can see some progress in the house. i hope the speaker will bring the clean c.r. to the floor, will let the members of the house vote on that so that we can keep the government operating for this country. thank you. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. sessions: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: madam president, we have a number of serious difficulties in our country. the most serious, i think, is lack of jobs and lack of economic growth, and the affordable care act is devastating to that situation, making it much worse. our colleagues need to understand as we talk about the difficulties that would happen
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if we have a shutdown, and there will be difficulties, that's for sure, but the idea that this is not an important matter that needs to be addressed when we confront the affordable care act, obamacare, is wrong. we have got to address this question. just one thing i would say to all of us, the numbers are in and it's quite clear. 77% of the jobs that have been created since january of this year are part time. every economist has said that is in large part driven by the affordable care act. there is no doubt that this is a major factor and this exceedingly unusual and dangerous trend that businesses are hiring people part time, not full time. 77% are hired part time. and when you look at the job numbers that will come in, i guess, tomorrow, how many people
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got jobs, maybe it's 180, maybe it's 210, and they'll brag about that. will anybody talk about the fact that to an unprecedented degree, those jobs will be part time? without health care, without retirement against, less job security? somebody needs to be thinking about that. and the health care bill is absolutely a driving factor. businesses tell me that as i traveled my state in august, and they say they are trying to keep small businesses below 50 employees, too, so they are not hiring people just to stay below 50 employees so they don't have to comply with some of these rules. what have we heard all year? we are not going to talk about fixing the affordable care act. we are not going to bring it up. you're not going to get a single amendment in the united states senate. the house has repeatedly
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legislated about the affordable care act. the senate refuses to take up that bill, refuses to allow votes, refuses to have a full debate, and we have got until the end of the year and nothing has been done about it. so you could expect some tension to build up here. and so what i hear the senate saying is delay this thing for one year, it's not working. the president has already delayed parts of it, probably without lawful authority, and delay it for a year, and the president and senator reid said we will shut down the government before we will do that. we will shut down the government before we will do that. the house has passed a bill to fund the government, but it delayed the bill that was just voted down, would simply delay the affordable care act one year. maybe in this time we could
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actually be able to bring it up to the floor and fix some of the problems or change some of the provisions that are so damaging to america. an one thing i want everyone to know, i am the ranking republican on the budget committee and we deal with the numbers, so i wrote the general accounting office. they are an independent group. and asked them what the long-term costs of the affordable care act would be. the president said unequivocally that this bill will not add one dime to the debt of the united states. do you remember him saying that? he said it many times, his age and senators said the same thing many times. the president went on to say, you may have forgotten, not now, not ever, period, direct quote. well, is that true? will the obama care bill not add
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one dime to the united states debt now or ever? what did the general accounting office say? this is a charge that reflects what they told the budget committee in response to my question. ignore this social security side of our chart. this is what they said. they said over the 75-year period, it adds $6.2 trillion to the debt of the united states. now, that number is huge. a trillion dollars is a lot of money. well, how huge is it? how do we compare it? all of us know that social security is in great difficulty and under serious threat, and we have got to reform it and put it on a sound basis. it is not going to be easy to do that. why?
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well, it's got unfunded liabilities. we don't have enough money coming in to pay for the commitments that we made to pay out in the future. remember, social security has a dedicated tax. it's on your paycheck every month. it's the fica that you pay that goes to social security and you have a medicare withholding. those funds are dedicated to social security, but it's not enough. people living longer, the benefits are such that it's -- we don't have a shortfall. how much is that shortfall that we have been wrestling with how to fix? $7.7 trillion. so in the bill that passed on christmas eve that they rammed through the senate on christmas eve on a party-line vote before scott brown could take office and provide the vote from massachusetts that would have killed the bill, they rammed it through the senate without any amendments, and it added another
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$6.2 trillion to the unfunded liabilities of the united states of america. and it's worse than that. i'm not going to -- i'm going to explain why it's even worse. that number does not explain the interest on the $6.2 trillion over 75 years. i expect the interest is going to be many trillions of dollars because it adds to the debt. and as we borrow the money, we pay interest on the money that we borrow. it's not just free. we borrow the money on market -- market -- -- on market or from trust funds. so this is a big deal. the american people need to know that the promise this bill will not add to the debt is absolutely false. this is based on the g.a.o. said accepted principles of the most likely scenario of things that will happen.
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and one of the things they say is the cuts they made to medicare providers, hospitals and doctors, that provide health care to seniors are so large, they will not be sustainable, and if they continue to cut in that fashion over a period of years, hospitals will close and doctors will quit practicing. cannot do it. we are already dealing with a doc fix now on a bill that cut doctors more than they could be reasonably cut, and we have to every year find up to $40 billion, i believe, to get the money to fund the doctors, because you can't cut below a certain amount. so i would just say this number is low. that's the general accounting office not very long ago gave us these numbers. so as we wrestle with the great responsibilities we have been given as united states senators,
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yes, we need to think about what would happen in the next few days if the government does not function, and i hope we avoid that. we absolutely should avoid that because it's not good. but we need to be asking ourselves what are we doing to our children and grandchildren and the financial stability of the united states of america with legislation that's going to commence now by january 1 that will add $6 trillion more to the unfunded -- to the death death. this is a -- to the debt of the united states. this is a huge amount, and i ask my colleagues to consider it. one more matter that shows how we get in trouble financially. when the numbers get so large, nobody can quite follow them, it seems. the larger the numbers get, the harder it is to follow. under the legislation, the affordable care act, the plan
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was to cut up to $500 billion just over the next ten years from medicare by cutting providers while promising patients we would receive just as good of health care as they always do, we're not cutting your benefits. we're just cutting providers. we have done this before. at some point, you can't sustain that. on christmas christmas -- well,r december 30, the night before this bill passed, i got the director of the congressional budget office, our own accountant, and i -- i told him in a conference call words to this effect. it is absolutely unbelievable to me, mr. c.b.o. director, mr. elmendorf, that we are about to vote tomorrow morning, we are told, on the largest health care bill since medicare, and we
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don't know how to count the money. i think they are double counting the money. and this is unbelievable how many hundred billion dollars we're talking about, it seems to me, and i could hear somebody on his conference call say it is double counting. i heard him in the background. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. sessions: i thank the chair. i would ask for one additional minute. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. sessions: i thank the president. and so mr. elmendorf by the next morning gave us a letter and it laid out and it contained this language. he said the key point is that savings to the h.i. trust fund, that's the medicare trust fund, the $500 billion over ten years,
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the savings to the h.i. trust fund under ppaca -- that's the affordable care act -- would be received by the government only once, so they cannot be set aside to pay for future medicare spending and, at the same time, pay for current spending on the other parts of the legislation or on other programs." you can't simultaneously say you're using this money to support medicare by making medicare safer by reducing its costs and then spend the money. it's not then available to strengthen medicare. so that's what we are -- so that figure is not even calculated in this $6.2 trillion. so, madam president, i would just conclude by saying the
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unfunded liabilities in this bill are huge. they are a direct threat to the future of the united states financially, and at this point in history, we need to be saving medicare, we need to be saving social security, we need to be saving medicaid. we don't need to be funding -- starting another program without sufficient funds to pay for it. i would yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. ms. landrieu: thank you, madam president. i am happy to have an opportunity just to speak for a minute, particularly following my good friend, the senator from alabama. he and i have worked so closely together on so many issues, and it just goes to show you, one day you can really agree on something and work together, and the next day you can have very different points of view. he and i worked together successfully on the restore act. we are working on the fair act where we can get a portion of our revenues to bring back to alabama, mississippi and
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louisiana from offshore oil and gas production, and i have to say i have enjoyed many times working with him over the -- over the years that we have both been here. but tonight, i take issue with some of the things that he said. just to sum it up, with as much due respect, that if this -- if everything the senator said about the affordable care act was actually factual -- and it is not, but if everything he said was true about the act, this time and this method of shutting down the government to prove his point is still wrong. you should not hold federal employees, you should not hold the economy of the united states, you should not hold the governments of the united states, federal, state or local which will be affected by this, hostage because you agree or think that the affordable care act is a bad act. it's the wrong method. it's the wrong time for that
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debate. that is the issue. they are on the floor debating whether the affordable care act is good or bad. that is not the debate we're having tonight. the debate we should be having tonight is whether, whether it's good or bad, is it worth shutting the government of the united states down tonight. and the answer is clearly no. secondly, the senator from alabama said this bill was passed in the middle of the night. it was passed late one night several years ago. it's been passed by the house and the senate, signed into law as every bill, by the president of the united states and in this case of this law, upheld by the supreme court and is being implemented by a majority of states in the united states. and this bill, this law, this concept, this approach was debated for 40 years.
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in 20 congresses. this wasn't debated in one night, one week, morning, noon, or midnight. 40 years. across presidents, republican and democrat. the question was how does the richest nation in the world, the most developed democracy on earth, a nation with a hundred million plus workers, how do we provide affordable health care without bankrupting the country and putting too much burden on either individuals or businesses? there were ideas thrown out for 40 years, this was devastated. not one night, not christmas eve. there were hundreds of hearings, thousands of documents, millions of pieces of paper, and studies done on
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the subject, and there were about four options. one, medicare for all. lots of opposition to that, it's expensive, popular but expensive. single-payer system like canada. pop loor with some, deemed too socialistic by others. the third option was medicaid savings accounts, health care savings accounts. republicans love it, democrats don't like it, don't think it's fair to the middle class, it would only really help those at the top 2%. we said no and so we compromised on an idea that came not out of the democratic caucus, out of the republican caucus. not out of the democratic think tank, out of a republican think tank. the heritage foundation. and passed a private-sector market-based insurance choice for all americans.
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but that debate is over. at least the bill is passed, the debate will go on for a while, but not about shutting the government down. the debate as far as the bill passing, it's done, it's signed into law. and contrary to arguments made on the other side that nobody's interested in amending anything, i don't know if they've read their congressional record. it's right in the congressional record. we've already amended the law twice on a vote in the house and the senate. remember like a year and a half ago we passed the 1099, we repealed that, it was a part of the way we paid for the bill, we reviewed after we did it and thought that wasn't a very good idea, we changed it. there's been another change to the law. it's not like this law will never be changed. but for republicans, particularly the extremists, to
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every time we come up to a budget debate or the full faith and credit of the united states to reengage in this debate, it's not fair to the american people, it's not fair to the workers of the united states, it's not fair to the businesses in the united states, it's just simply not the right way to legislate. so i would like and the chairman from alabama, as the ranking member of the budget committee, i would wish he would get on the floor and urge his colleagues to go to conference on the budget that he was talking about because i do agree with him, we do have a deficit problem. we do have a debt problem. we do have some entitlements that need to be looked at. we have to get our budget in balance. but the way to do it is not to hold the american people hostage, to take their jobs away from them, to shut the government down. that is not the way to operate. it's to go to conference.
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we have tried 18 times to go to conference, and we've been blocked by the senator from texas. the senator from texas, senator cruz, has objected to going to conference to debate the budget. let's debate the budget. let's debate the appropriation bills. i'm an appropriator. i'm the chair of the homeland security committee. thousands of people tomorrow are going to be laid off, people that protect our borders, help navigate international trade, help keep our hospitality industry going, passports, et cetera. are going to be impacted. but instead of the senator arguing, urging us as the ranking member of the budget committee to go to the budget committee to negotiate, they have objected. we can't go to a conference. senator murray passed her budget months ago. we passed a budget.
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the house has passed a budget. they aren't the same budget but it's their version, our version, let's go to conference and work it out. but no, we have to now threaten the shutdown of the entire government of the united states because the republicans, 40 years of debate was not enough. 40 years of debate was not enough. two presidential elections which they lost, not convincing enough. the majority of the senate fell to the democrats. not convincing enough. if the people who voted that way, if their votes -- their actions as a democratic nation are so disrespected by our colleagues on the other side, it's not like this is a dictatorship, we were elected. i'm even elected in a state that this is a difficult issue. it's not clear cut.
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i've got people for it and against it. but after study and after soulsearching and after looking at all the options and understanding i have 800,000 people in my state that are uninsured, i have hundreds of thousands of small businesses that have been dropping their insurance because they couldn't afford it, 85% of our market is taken up by one company, virtually no competition, i said there's got to be a better way. this may not be perfect, but the status quo is worse. now, that debate we had, and their side lost. so instead of just trying to fix what they can or suggest changes or find a time where we can debate -- we've already changed two things, the president administratively has already pushed back one -- they want to shut the government down. it is on their shoulders. so i came to the floor and i'm going to ask for future more minutes to talk about two things because i have hesitated to
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speak on this big issue because i've been focused for the last year on a real problem, not that this isn't a problem, it is a problem, but on a real issue that with a little bit of attention from everyone and a lot of less rhetoric we could fix and that is helping to amend a bill that did pass and does need to be amended, bigger waters. now, i'm not threatening to shut the government down over this. i'm simply asking and raising attention to the fact that at some point we would like to have a debate on this floor in the house on amending biggert-waters. biggert-waters was a bill that passed, it wasn't debated for 40 years, it was debated for a very short time. at the time the bill passed -- can i ask for five additional minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. landrieu: the bill passed
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out of the committee on the senate side, never did come to the floor at all for debate. went to the house, was changed pretty dramatically and then put in a conference committee, which happens sometimes, not usual, but it does happen. not complaining about that except that the results of it are that hundreds of thousands of people in louisiana, texas, florida, north dakota, new york, and new jersey tomorrow morning as i guess the government is shutting down and they may not be able to go to work if they have a government job will also have a big, fat bill coming on their flood insurance. because biggert-waters, the bill in the house had several very pernicious provisions, one of which is that the minute a person who has in their five million policies in the country, there should be about 17 million but there are only five million, there will be 17 million or some such universe as
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that. there are 5 million now. we have many in louisiana. when a person goes to put their house on the market and they sell it, the act of sale, according to biggert-waters, removes their grandfather status and thegd from grandfathered status which was below market rate which was done purposefully to try to help people that live in coastal areas, not necessarily in second homes, not in condos, not in million-dollar mansions, these are people that work on the rivers, fish, coastal communities, hardworking individuals and small businesses to allow them to live where they have lived in our case for 300 years. they didn't just move there in the 1980's, they didn't move down there for sunbathing. been down there for 300 years. to give them an opportunity to live in reasonable -- with reasonable insurance. in the biggert-waters bill that
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trigger, that for sale, the act of putting up a for sale sign or selling your house eliminates your subsidy virtually rendering your house valueless. it's not paying 100 more, 400% more, that's hard number but in some cases it literally is going to rend area house valueless. because if a couple was paying, for insnc $1,200 a year for insurance, the trigger that kept it at 1,200 and let's say the real rate is $15,000, their flood insurance will go from $1,200 to $15,000 overnight. no one will buy their home for $15,000 annual premium for insurance. so if they have $400 in equity in their home or $500 equity or $150,000 equity or perhaps they have a million dollars in equity , it's gone. because their house will not be able to be sold for virtually
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any price close to what it's worth. that is not right. that would become close to takings. when this bill passed i put an objection in the record, i said then we would be back talking about it, there are ways we can fix bills, we need to get biggert-waters fixed and changed. i want to submit we don't shut the government down to do it, we negotiate, we meet in conference, we bring amendments to committees, we work together, and i want to just read into the record for just a few minutes because i don't see anyone else on the floor, that many in congress were led to believe that the flood insurance program was unsustainable, that it consistently paid out more in losses than it collected in premiums. the 0 only way to balance the ledger was to eliminate subsidies is. that wasn't the case. during three of the past five years the program actually elected more in premium revenues than it paid out in losses. in fact, the program has
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tabulated an annual surplus 18 times during its 42-year history. now, there were times after the florida -- the florida terrible year, 2004, i think when four hurricanes hit and of course after katrina when our levees broke and caused so much drained from the fund but if you look over time it was about a $19 million average loss per year, not great, but not horrible. not enough to generate the kind of bill that was passed year that is draconian. i also think most members of congress would be surprised to learn that 40% of all properties which are required to maintain flood insurance do not have an active policy. this violation of the law costs the program hundreds of millions in lost revenues. there are stricter penalties in biggert-waters for lenders, however, it is difficult to justify these exorbitant rate increases for people who are participating in the program and
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playing by the rules when millions of property owners are bucking their legal obligation. i also think most members of congress and the general public would be shocked to learn that only 44% of the money collected by the program is used to cover flood losses in any given year. in fact, the program spends more money paying the insurance companies and agents who administer the program but don't incur any risk and to sevicing the debt created by the corps of engineers than it spends on the losses for flood. i'm going to submit this to the record. these are --. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. landrieu: thank you. these are only several reasons why this bill needs to be amended. again, i'm not threatening to shut town down -- tout down, that is not appropriate, there are ways to amend the bill and we can work on that. i'd like to put michael heck's quote into the record. he is the g.n.o. executive director, g.n.o., ink, he is leading -- inc., leading a
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group of realtors, bankers, gulf coast residents and many others, he said it is irresponsible to introduce drastic reforms that will potentially devastate hundreds of thousands of american homes and business owners before basic questions about foregone revenues and high costs are answered. to proceed otherwise, destroying the wealth of americans who have done what the government told them, is both economically unwise and morally unjust. the presiding officer: without objection of the ms. landrieu: madam president, i know my time is almost to the end. there's no one else on the floor so i'd like to speak until someone else gets here, i would like to be recognized, but, madam president, this is what we should be working on. we should be working on fixing flood insurance. tomorrow morning, october 1, these rates go up, thighs trigger mechanisms go into effect. it is -- these trigger mechanisms go into
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effect. it is devastating for people in my state, in your state, in florida and texas. but the texas senators seem to be more concerned about the affordable care act. i understand in their mind it's a problem and in their heart, they're sincere, and i understand their constituents are complaining. but it is the law and we should not shut the government down over this. i wish they would turn their attention to this, to the bigger waters bill, which this house and senate passed. it needs to be amended. it needs to be fixed and we need to negotiate a way forward. number two, if people do want to fight about changes to the budget, which i'm -- i'm an appropriator. we've been negotiating for years with republicans about how much to spend, how little to spend, what programs to fund, what not. you do that in a budget conference. you do that in the appropriations bill. ms. landrieu: in fact, on this measure that we're debating tonight, the democrats accepted
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the house number. we didn't even talk about negotiate, we just accepted the number that they gave us for the continuing resolution. you know, it was below our number. we want to fund the government in this month at a little bit higher rate, but we even accepted their number and said, fine, we'll take your number. we usually don't do that. we usually cut it in half or split the difference or say, well, you want this, we want that of we just took it. we just said "yes." they can't even take "yes" for an answer because they are so committed to using the federal government as a hostage, or the full faith and credit of the united states as a hostage, to change a bill they had every opportunity to change and didn't change or couldn't change, didn't have the votes to change. maybe one day they will but they don't have those votes in this chamber tonight. and they don't have those votes in -- in -- in the house, if they would let the whole house vote, they most certainly would
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not. they're just allowing the republicans to vote. but if they would allow the house to vote in its entirety, representing the country, they would support the position of the senate and we know that. so it's very unfortunate. i'm going to end my remarks by saying, let us focus on what we can do to fix some bills, biggert-watters, flood insurance being one of them. let's not hold the american public, the government hostage over a bill that passed, that's signed into law and upheld by the supreme court and is being implemented by a majority of states in america. we can debate it, not shut the government down over it. and i want to thank the senator. i'd like to ask just one more minute. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. landrieu: i'd like to just put something else in the record as well that is important for us to think about tonight besides the underlying debate, which i've spoke been, and the big
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biggert-watters which is going into effect tomorrow. we're going to do a press conference on it, and do as much as we can for republicans and democrats to fix t. but there's another issue i want to bring up to the body tonight while we're waiting for the leader. the district of columbia is -- if we decent something in the next hour or two -- and there's i think with consent on both republicans and the democrats here -- we could allow the district of columbia, which is one city that is going to be more impacted than others should the budget of the united states not be able to be negotiated in the next hour and hour and a half. and so what i'm hoping, by raising this issue, is that members will consider that every city in the united states is going to operate tomorrow morning, every state is going to operate tomorrow morning, even if the federal government is shut down, they will be impacted but they will continue to operate. with their own money, on their
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own steam, under their own laws. i would like the same thing for the district of columbia. the district of columbia's budget is 75% local and 23% federal so most of their money is local money raised by local taxes, not the taxpayers of the united states. more impressive than that, they have balanced their budget, unlike us, for 18 years. people may be surprised to know this. the district of columbia, which has about 650,000 people in the city, they don't have a senator to speak for them, they have a house member but the house member has no vote, so i want to speak on their behalf for just a few minutes. they have balanced their budget for 18 years and they have well over a billion dollars cash in the bank. so i'm raising this to my colleagues to ask if you would consider a unanimous resolutio resolution -- several of us are putting it together now; i'd
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love for my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help -- to allow, simply allow the district of columbia to use their own money, even if the federal money doesn't come forward, use their own money, raised by their own taxpayers to keep their own government operating. i think because they're under a special provision, as you know, to us and have been for many years, people argue whether that's right or not -- that's not the point of this,; whether it's right or not is of no consequence, it is the law. and if we can give them some relief, i think it would be very, very, very helpful to the thousands of people that really need a signal from us that just because we can't get our budget straight, just because our budget's in deficit doesn't mean we can't honor the fact that the d.c. budget is in surplus, a billion dollars in the bank. it has been balanced for 18 years and 75% of their budget comes from their own taxpayers.
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we should allow them to use their money and to stay hope. this shutdown, i hope we avoid it, doesn't look like we're going to. it could be a day, it could be three days. it could be three weeks, it could be four months. who knows how long it's going to be? i hope that it doesn't happen and i hope that it's a very short period of time. but whatever it is, there is no reason in the world for the district of columbia, as mayor gray he said -- he said, and this was his statement, and i want to give him the credit, this is his statement, he says, "we've balanced our budget for 18 consecutive years, we have well over a billion in the bank yet we cannot spend our own money to provide our residents with services they've paid for unless we get permission from a congress that can't even agree to pay its own bills." so, madam president, i'm going to yield the floor in just a second. but if we can't agree how to pay our bills, i think that's unfortunate, we should. but for heaven's sakes, this is a big city, it's an important
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city, it's the capital of the nation. they should be able to operate tomorrow morning. so i'm hoping in these wee hours we can find a way. all it takes is unanimous consent. and i know tensions are running high but we can be angry at each other or frustrated but we should not be angry with the district. they've done nothing wrong. they have balanced their budget. they need to be able to operate. and many people in the nation, all over the nation depend on the district government. so let's not shut them down while we're shutting ourselves down. and i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. reid: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid reid: i ask unanimous consent there be a period of morning business for debate only until 12:00 midnight with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each and at 12:00 midnight, i be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. reid: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask consent the call of the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: madam president, this is a very serious time in the history of the country but it's hard to comprehend with millions of people being affected tomorrow -- in 65 minutes, actually -- the republicans are still playing games. as i indicated to the -- speaking through the chair to the senior senator from illinois
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a couple hours ago, just take a couple of examples. we have 15,000 people a day come to lake meade, spending huge amounts of money to help the economy. they come there to boat, to fish, to recreate. tomorrow morning they can't go. we have a beautiful area, recreational area, just a short distance out of las vegas. when you fly into las vegas, you can see those beautiful red hills. it's called red rock. over a million people a year come and visit that. not tomorrow. no, the republicans are shutting down places like that all over america because they don't believe in government, and tomorrow will be a bad day for government, a day of celebration for the republican-dominated house, led by the tea party over
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there. we hear the next gambit of the house is to request a conference on the c.r. madam president, we like to resolve issues. in the senate chamber tonight is chairwoman patty murray, chairman of the budget committee. she works so awfully hard to pass a budget in this body. we worked until 5:00 in the morning to get it passed. we voted on over a hundred amendments. we passed a budget. we passed a budget because the right thing to do and republicans said we should pass a budget and we did. senator murray has for more than six months requested a conference on the budget. 18 times. so we like to resolve issues. but we will not go to conference with a gun to our head. the first thing that the house has to do is pass a clean six-week c.r. they have that before them. they can do it right now. if they do that, then we'll
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agree to work with ropes funding for the government -- with republicans on funding for the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. so i propose that the house passes our clean c.r., we'll sit down and discuss funding for the balance of the year. that's it. this deal they're pulling now -- they have the -- they have a rule over there that says that they want to go to conference on the c.r. madam president, that closes government. they want to close government. this is all a subterfuge to satisfy the tea party driven republicans. and this very, very strange -- this agenda that is so hurtful to the american people. so i -- i want everyone to hear what i just said. we will not go to conference until we g

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